Gold Star Sunday

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Today is the day we remember the Gold Star Families, those who have lost their service member in combat.

These families now have a new way to stay intouch, both with each other and with others, including the military family that has become so important to them.

As a story from Defenselink News reported,
a new Virtual Installation, such as the Army Strong Community Center that opened in Rochester NY in September, is a way for these families to maintain ties to the military. As three families who met with Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz made clear to him :

What they said they’re lacking now is a way to stay tied to the military their sons died serving, and to get information and help when they need it.

These families have had difficulties with finding counseling who could help, in one case helping the fiancee of the fallen servicemember receive benefits for the daughter he never saw, and in assisting the siblings who were suffering with the death of their brother. This installation could be of service, could help this group of families who need to feel that we haven’t forgotten them.

I have a blog friend, who lost her son 5 years ago. I visit Ken at Arlington periodically, and think of his mother often. As a former Blue Star Mother, and a current Blue Star Wife, I honour her service and her loss, I honour the Gold Star Families around the country who grieve the loss of their servicemember, their son or daughter, who miss their brother or sister, the father or mother they will never see again. Our country needs to remember these families, we need to make sure that their sacrifice is never ever forgotten.

General Casey remembered these families Saturday at the 4th Annual Time of Remembrance at the US Capitol, spent time talking to them, especially the children. The White House Commission on Remembrance proclaimed that the purpose of this day is

To unite our citizens in remembrance, honoring all those who died in service to our country with a special tribute to America’s fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq and the families they left behind. To demonstrate to these families that in addition to their family and friends, their fellow Americans care about their loss.

We must never forget that each one of the names on the roll of the fallen have a family that will never be the same again, that have sacrificed so much.

LAW

Honor and Remember

September 11, 2009 · Filed Under Honor Their Service, Proud Mom 3 · 2 Comments 

honor and remember flag

I recently heard about an organization that is trying to establish a national symbol of gratitude to fallen military members along with providing a visible reminder to all Americans. That symbol will be a flag that honors all who have given their life in defense of our freedom.

Honorandremember.org has designed the flag with a gold star upon which is an eternal flame on a red and white background. Printed on the flag are the words, Honor and Remember. The flags are available for purchase through Honorandremember.org. They come in two sizes and you can choose between a screen printed flag or a hand-stitched appliquéd flag. There are even motorcycle flags for all you bikers out there!

Congressman Randy Forbes from Virginia introduced HR 1034, a bill to make this flag a national symbol. You can help buy signing the petition on Honorandremember.org. The United States does not have a nation symbol that honors the sacrifice made by the men and women who gallantly defend our country.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Fleet Reserve Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Security Forces Association, and the Naval Reserve Association currently endorse the Honor and Remember flag.

By signing the petition you are helping in the movement to have the flag congressionally and militarily sanctioned as a permanent symbol to fly continuously in eternal honor and remembrance of all fallen military service men and women.

I think this is a wonderful idea, as we cannot do enough to honor those who made a commitment to everyone of us. Please go sign the petition and give this gift to our heroes and their families. In honor, they served. In honor, they sacrificed. Let us never forget them.

Proud Mom 3

A Real Hero- His True Story

September 3, 2009 · Filed Under Honor Their Service, LAW · Comment 

There are heroes everywhere – at least if you read the paper or watch the news.  Here – thanks to Donna Miles  of the American Forces Press Service and with her permission – is a REAL one.  warning – Kleenex should be at your fingertips.

Commentary: Wounded Warrior Offers Real Story

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2009 – Two days ago, I and six other reporters accompanied Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to Texas to see two high-tech operations under way: the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter Lockheed Martin is building in Fort Worth, and the retrofitting of the MC-12 Liberty turboprop at the L3 Communications plant in Greenville.Both efforts have important military implications. The F-35 is a revolutionary next-generation fighter aircraft that the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as eight partner nations, will share. The MC-12 is being outfitted with state-of-the-art gear – 41,000 pieces of it, to be exact – and already is delivering new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in Iraq. It soon will do the same for warfighters in Afghanistan as more come off the line.

Getting to see both operations firsthand was impressive, to say the least. It was gratifying to see the energy, and frankly, the money, being poured into programs that directly support our troops on the front lines.

But almost 48 hours after the return flight to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., these stops aren’t the ones lingering in my mind.

What replays over and over in my head, and that I find myself sharing with just about everyone I talk with, is the third stop on the Texas trip, where Gates helped to present a wounded warrior with keys to a brand new, all-expenses-paid house near Houston.

Only two other Pentagon reporters and I opted to cover that stop, which most of us hadn’t known about until just days before the trip.

The two factory visits, which included a news conference at the Lockheed Martin plant, had delivered solid, hard-news stories about the F-35, the MC-12 and the situation on Afghanistan that couldn’t wait. Editors wanted their stories. Time was of the essence. That’s how the news business works.

Yet that additional side trip to Cypress, just outside Houston, yielded what to me was the most eye-opening and inspiring story of the day, maybe of the year.

A community came together and raised enough money to buy a brand-new, 3,300-square-foot home for a severely wounded Marine captain and his family. They presented it with no strings attached, calling him a hero and telling him it was part of the debt they owed him for his sacrifices and service.

I admit I’m a bit of a sap. But our motorcade approached the house, I was moved by the outpouring of genuine support. Hundreds of wildly cheering people lined the street and the sidewalk leading up to the front door: Boy Scouts in uniforms, schoolchildren hoisting hand-painted banners, neighbors holding American flags, Marines in their dress blues.

The house itself was packed with well-wishers crammed into every nook and cranny, all focused on a makeshift podium set up in the middle of the living room.

The luminaries made their speeches. Before Secretary Gates spoke, the onlookers heard from Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurt, U.S. Rep Todd Tiahrt from Kansas, and Meredith Iler, national chairwoman for the Helping a Hero organization that made the donation possible.

But it was Capt. Dan Moran, the medically retired Marine they were honoring, who left the group spellbound.

Moran has sacrificed a lot since an enemy attack left him with excruciating third-degree burns over his body, a fractured vertebra and mild traumatic brain injury. He’s undergone more than 30 surgeries and spent two and a half years recovering at the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

To this day, he can’t control his body temperature and has to stay in a 68-degree environment. He can’t go outside in the sunshine, where his body will overheat and his burns will fester. His face is red and swollen, a testament to his wounds.

But as he stood at the podium in his new living room, he harbored no anger, no blame, no sense of being owed something.

“What do I say to people who have given me so much?” he asked. “Words don’t do justice. So let me tell you right now. It is going to be the way that I live my life. And the way I am going to live my life is by honor, courage and commitment.”

At this point, a tear started rolling down my cheek. Bad form for a reporter, even one who works for the Defense Department. But then another tear followed. I felt self-conscious — until I saw tears rolling down the faces of many others crowding the room. How could anyone not feel the raw emotion of this?

“You can rest assured,” Moran continued. “You made an investment in me and other wounded warriors, and I promise you, you will get a return on your investment in me. … This is how I am going to pay you back: by how I live my life and the impact I will have.”

I looked across the room at Secretary Gates, and it was obvious that he, too, had been touched by the captain. Flying on the plane back to Washington, Gates told reporters that he had jokingly told Moran, “Remind me to never speak after you.”

Moran would have been a tough act for anyone to follow.

As I reflect on the Texas trip, I feel edified by the experience. I’m further amazed at the technology that goes into making our warfighters the world’s best. I’m impressed by the American industrial base – where workers I met expressed genuine pride in the fact that their everyday work is saving lives on the battlefield.

But the image I can’t shake is of Captain Moran at that podium, so eloquently expressing humble thanks and committing himself to a life of example and service.

That’s a news story.

(Donna Miles can be reached for comment at donna.miles@osd.mil.)

HELP OUR HEROES

July 6, 2009 · Filed Under Honor Their Service, Some Soldier's Mom, This & That · 1 Comment 
Independence Day having just passed and people (hopefully) have been reminded of all the good things a Free America provides… so I thought it appropriate to remind people (although probably preaching to the choir) that THERE ARE THOSE STILL ACTIVELY FIGHTING on our behalf… as well as those who have fought and paid a heavy price… some of these Warriors could use a little help. So below is my “Help Our Heroes” list…

the newest addition to that list is a new and worthwhile NON-PARTISAN organization to advocate on behalf of veterans of ALL wars and all peace time service as well as for those who still serve — the
WARRIOR LEGACY FOUNDATION. For information on the necessity and mission of WLF, read Blackfive’s post HERE. You need not be a veteran to join — just someone who wishes to honor those who serve and those that have served. Membership is free, although donations are welcome.

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